Writer’s Note: In the past, we’ve focused on those stat-stuffing players that stuff the box score without scoring the ball. Moving forward, we’ll be shooting through a different lens.
In the interest of creating quality content and keeping things fresh, we’ll now be identifying good buy-low opportunities, guys on the rise, as well as thoughts of trade players to consider before the rest of your league does so.
As a reminder, we’ll still be gearing toward leagues that utilize the NBA’s Official Scoring System.
Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls
The Nikola Mirotic trade we were all waiting for has finally arrived, clearing the “Portis Path” for takeoff.
Over his last five outings, Portis has produced in limited run with averages of 12.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 0.8 steals in almost 21 minutes per game. Now with Mirotic off to make music in New Orleans, the high-energy Portis will look to step up, fill the void, and show why the organization should continue to believe in him after everything that’s transpired.
On a per-36 minutes basis this season, Portis 21.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal. It would be ridiculous to expect the big man to play 36 minutes nightly moving forward, but 25-30 certainly seems reasonable given the trajectory of the Bulls franchise. Portis can pack a potent punch, so he’s definitely worth a grab if available on your waiver wire. No. 5 is owned in just 43% of Yahoo leagues.
Jahlil Okafor, Brooklyn Nets
Jarrett Allen has been the popular swoop, but Okafor is the second man in a two-man rotation with the other a 19-year-old rookie. That’s not a knock on Allen, but simply the reality of the situation. Moving on…
Okafor struggled with foul trouble in his most recent outing vs. the club that sent him packing, but the former No. 3 overall pick has averaged 11.3 points, 7.3 boards, and 1.0 block over his last few games. With 20-25 minutes now expected nightly and consistency becoming a new normalcy for Okafor, the former lottery pick looks like a very favorable pickup for those who rolled the dice after Tyler Zeller was benched.
Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons
If Johnson can finally start to show what Stan Van Gundy saw in him prior to the 2015 draft, it would go a really long way with Blake Griffin’s arrival. The Arizona product has an opportunity like never before, and perhaps with all of the attention on Andre Drummond and the newly-acquired Blake Griffin, Johnson can get the freedom and opportunities needed to sustain production.
Including Thursday’s 104-102 win against Memphis, Johnson has averaged 18.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks in his last three games. During that stretch, the third-year man has hoisted up 48 field goal attempts while playing nearly 35 minutes per game, and it only looks like a sign of things to come given the construction of Detroit’s team.
It was easy to take a flier on Johnson after he blew up before Griffin’s debut, and he’s going to be a critical cog in the scheme with the Pistons’ wing situation in shambles. I’m not hesitating to add him in 12-team formats, and it’s pretty surprising that he’s only made it onto 21% of rosters so far.
Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns
Jackson was one of my favorite stash candidates for the second half, and it’s happening even earlier than anticipated for a Phoenix franchise in desperate need of positive developments.
If we remove a 0-for-13 zero-point stinker from the mix, the throwback rookie has averaged 19.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 steal, and 0.5 blocks in 28.1 minutes over four previous contests. There is good reason to be excited about his outlook, and I only expect him to continue to get further involved as his inaugural campaign progresses. The fact that Jackson is on just 31% of rosters despite the fact that four of his five career 20-plus point games—including back-to-back matchups—have come this month means not enough fantasy general managers are paying attention.
Ed Davis, Portland Trail Blazers
Davis could be one of those players who goes forever undervalued in both reality and fantasy. Although he’s seemingly found a home in Portland, Big Ed will again be up for unrestricted free agency this summer, and the Blazers are already against it from a financial perspective. The club has an approximate combined $93 million invested in Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Moe Harkless, and that’s without taking into account Jusuf Nurkic’s impending restricted free agency.
Davis has been ballin’ over his last six games, averaging 9.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. Although Nurkic (quad) isn’t expected to miss time, Davis is a per-minute monster who has never needed to score the ball or get a ton of minutes in order to produce.